Portrait of Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin

Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin



Qualifications: PhD, MA, Dip. Architecture, RIBA

Timothy Brittain-Catlin is an architect who has been writing about architectural history for many years, both for a general readership and for those with a particular interest in the revolutionary changes in architectural thinking in early nineteenth-century England.

He qualified as an architect in 1988 and has worked on a wide variety of design projects from conservation and restoration to masterplanning both in Britain and abroad. He joined the Kent School of Architecture and Planning and Planning from the Architectural Association in September 2007.

He specialises in early nineteenth-century and early twentieth English architecture and in particular in the work of A.W.N. Pugin, completing a doctorate on ‘The English residential architecture of A.W.N. Pugin in its context’ in 2004 under the supervision of Andrew Saint at the University of Cambridge. He is a regular contributor to the World of Interiors and the Architectural Review, and his publications include How to Read a Building (2007) and Churches (2008). His book The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century was published by Spire Books in association with English Heritage in July 2008. His latest book is Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture, published in 2014 by The MIT Press, the podcast is available here.

In Summer 2018 he was appointed to Historic England’s national Advisory Committee. He is the deputy chairman and publications chairman of the 20th Century Society and from this position he played a leading role in the Society’s recent campaign to save postmodernist buildings, which resulted in a change in national policy and the listing of 17 postmodern structures across the country. He established and chairs Lund Humphries’ new editorial board in the Architectural History of the British Isles, supported by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.

Research interests

The reputation of architects at times of change

For the last ten years I have been working on a series of projects that all fall within the overall category of 'the reputation of architects at times of change.' This began with my detailed investigation into the English architects whose careers were thrown off course by the success of the gothic revival from the 1840s. My book The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century, published by Spire Books in 2008, provides a richly illustrated depiction of the way in which the gothic revival and its protagonists swept across the country in a remarkably short period, in effect terminating or diverting the working lives of many of their predecessors. He is currently completing the first comprehensive, innovative overview of Edwardian domestic architecture since the 1970s, with the new photography by Robin Forster, and this will be published by Lund Humphries in Autumn 2020.

Between 2008 and 2012 I started to work on studies of architects whose contribution to architecture and the profession was not matched by public acclaim or financial success. The reasons for this are varied: sometimes they did not have the drive to become commercially or socially successful; some narrowly failed to win competitions, or did win but the project remained unbuilt. Sometimes they worked in an unfashionable style; sometimes they were difficult characters with too many enemies. My first detailed study was of the mainly Edwardian architect Horace Field, whose designs for Lloyds Bank branches that resembled Restoration-era merchants’ houses eventually transformed the appearance of the interwar English high street, but whose successful early career with high-profile clients, houses and offices seemed to fizzle out rapidly after the First World War. I have also written about the ‘architects’ architect’ Leonard Manasseh, an influential and popular teacher at the Architectural Association in the 1950s and architect of the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu and the former Rutherford School in Marylebone.

In Spring 2014 The MIT Press published my book Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture, which provides many examples of ‘loser’ architects, and which proposes an explanation for why certain types of architecture never receive the type of critique and appreciation that they deserve.

I have been writing for The World of Interiors for 25 years, and contribute to many other magazines and journals, and I often discuss these matters there.


Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2014) Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass and London, UK, 192 pp. ISBN 9780262026697.
Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2011) 'Downward trajectory: towards a theory of failuer'. arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, 12 (02). pp. 139 - 147.
Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2010) 'Horace Field and Lloyds Bank'. Architectural History, 53. pp. 271-294. ISSN 0066-622X.
Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2010) Leonard Manasseh & Partners. 20th Century Architects. RIBA Publishing / English Heritage / The Twentieth Century Society, London, 162 pp. ISBN 9781859463680

He welcomes proposals from prospective PhD students in related areas.


Module CodeModule TitleInformation
AR551Nineteenth -Century ArchitectureModule Convenor
AR545Architectural DesignTutor


PhD Supervision


Showing 50 of 250 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.


  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2020). ’Like the sudden revelation of something ancient’: Timothy Brittain-Catlin on contemporary follies. Apollo: the international art magazine 191:20-21.
    A description and analysis of some recent folly-like houses, including Nithurst Farm, by Adam Richards; Teddington Folly, by Smith & Taylor; Flint House, by Charlotte Skene Catling; Long Fram, by Lucy Marston; and Craddock Cottages by Stephen Taylor.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2020). George Devey: the architect as artist and archaeologist. Victorian [Online] 2020:4-7. Available at: https://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/publications/category/the-victorian.
    An outline of the career and significance of the architect George Devey
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). An emigre’s eye. The World of Interiors [Online] 2019:134-139. Available at: https://www.worldofinteriors.co.uk/.
    On the life and work of Oscar Nemon and his studio at Boars Hill
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). When Palladio came to Cheshire - in the 1980s. Apollo: the international art magazine 190:40-41.
    An article about Henbury Hall, near Macclesfield, with reference to 'Henbury: An Extraordinary House' by Jeremy Musson (Pimpernel Press, 2019) and the London Festival of Architecture debate 'Star Wars' (26 June 2019)
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Swell Integrated. The World of Interiors [Online] 2019:98-105. Available at: http://www.worldofinteriors.co.uk/.
    A description of the conversion of a house on Kastellorizo for Nicoletta Fiorucci by the architect and designer Annarita Versa of Architetti Artigiani Anonimi
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Double Deutsch. The World of Interiors [Online] 2019:182-189. Available at: http://www.worldofinteriors.co.uk/.
    On Markus Winter's collection of German and central European expressionist and art deco furniture
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Outrage: Losers: history is on your side as a solid foundation for contemporary architecture. Architectural Review [Online] 2019:74-75. Available at: https://www.architectural-review.com/essays/campaigns/outrage/outrage-losers-history-is-on-your-side/10039665.article.
    A critique of conventional modernist architectural education and a reminder of present-day practitioners who make use of historical themes
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2018). Mackintosh down to a tea. The World of Interiors [Online] 2018:32-36. Available at: http://www.worldofinteriors.co.uk/.
    A description of the recent restoration of the Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, under the direction of Celia Sinclair
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2018). Mid-century modernised. The World of Interiors [Online] 2018:144-153. Available at: http://www.worldofinteriors.co.uk/.
    A description of the Sainsbury family house designed by Hugh Casson on the edge of Romney Marsh, recently refurbished by Maria Speake of Retrouvius
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). Reach for the Stars. The World of Interiors [Online] 2017:112-121. Available at: http://www.worldofinteriors.co.uk/.
    On the Clock Tower at Cardiff Castle, designed for the Marquis of Bute by William Burges in 1868
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). City of London Police Station, Wood Street. Icon 2017:114-115.
    On the current threat to the City of London Police Station in Wood Street, by McMorran & Whitby


  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2020). The Edwardians and Their Houses: The New Life of Old England. [Online]. London: Lund Humphries. Available at: https://www.lundhumphries.com/collections/subject__architecture-design-and-decorative-arts/products/106786.
    An overview of Edwardian domestic architecture, extending from the 1880s to 1914, and including a detailed description of the role played in it by senior Liberal Party members; Country Life magazine; and the remodelling of old houses

Book section

  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2020). Port Lympne. In: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 20th Century Gardens & Landscapes. London: Batsford, pp. 24-25. Available at: https://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/100-20th-century-gardens-and-landscapes/.
    A short illustrated description of the garden created at Port Lympne by Sir Philip Sassoon, Philip Tilden and Norah Lindsay
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Britain and Ireland 1830-1914. In: Fraser, M. ed. Sir Banister Fletcher’s Global History of Architecture. London: Bloomsbury / RIBA / University of London, pp. 601-640. Available at: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/sir-banister-fletchers-global-history-of-architecture-9781472589989/.
    An overview of British and Irish architecture during the period 1830-1914; included in volume 2 of the 21st edition of Sir Banister Fletcher's Global History of Architecture
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). St Faith. In: Charlton, S., Harwood, E. and Price, C. eds. 100 Churches 100 Years. Pavilion Books, p. 40. Available at: https://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/100-churches-100-years/.
    On the church of St Faith, Lee-on-the-Solent, Hants, by Seely and Paget, 1933
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). St Andrew & St George. In: Charlton, S., Harwood, E. and Price, C. eds. 100 Churches 100 Years. Pavilion Books, p. 83. Available at: https://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/100-churches-100-years/.
    A description of the church of St Andrew & St George, St George until 1984, Stevenage, by Seely and Paget, 1960.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Chesterton, Dame Elizabeth Ursula. In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/odnb/9780198614128.013.77157.
    The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for Dame Elizabeth Chesterton, architect and planner
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. and Curl, J. (2018). Prolegemenon. In: Making Dystopia: The Strange Rise and Survival of Architectural Barbarism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. ix-xii. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/making-dystopia-9780198753698?cc=gb&lang=en&.
    An introductory section to James Stevens Curl's Making Dystopia: the strange rise and survival of architectural barbarism
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). 1959: 6 Bacon’s Lane. In: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 Houses 100 Years. London: Pavilion Books, pp. 91-92. Available at: http://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/100-houses-100-years/.
    On Leonard Manasseh's house for his family, at 6 Bacon's Lane, Highgate
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). 1999: Winterbrook House. In: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 Houses 100 Years. London: Pavilion Books, p. 173. Available at: http://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/100-houses-100-years/.
    On Ken Shuttleworth's Winterbrook House, in Lower Compton, Wiltshire
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). 2008: Craddock Cottages. In: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 Houses 100 Years. London: Pavilion Books, pp. 186-187. Available at: http://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/100-houses-100-years/.
    On Craddock Cottages, Gomshall, Surrey, by Stephen Taylor Architects

Conference or workshop item

  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). The Canterbury Diocese and Queen Anne’s Bounty. In: ’Lucit in Tenebris Veritas’: Researching the Archives of Kent’s Anglican diocese’.
    A talk with examples of drawings from the Canterbury diocese collection of Queen Anne's Bounty mortgage application records, presented at the 'Lucit in Tenebris Veritas': researching the archives of Kent's Anglican diocese' day conference held at the Kent History and Library Centre, Maidstone, on 28 September 2019.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Reviving Tudor as the national style. In: The Institute of Conservation: Icon Historic Interiors Group Conference 2019: Raphaelites to Arts and Crafts. Available at: https://icon.org.uk/events/icon-historic-interiors-group-conference-pre-raphaelites-to-arts-crafts.
    A paper given at the The Institute of Conservation: Icon Historic Interiors Group Conference: Pre-Raphaelites to Arts & Crafts, Cambridge on 12 April 2019, about the roots of Edwardian domestic architecture in Victorian realism, including pre-Raphaelite art
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Securing British Postmodern Heritage. In: PRP3, the Third Presenting the Recent Past Conference. Available at: https://www.prp3.org/.
    A description of how the Twentieth Century Society successfully campaigned for the protection of British postmodern building, presented to PRP3, the third Presenting the Recent Past conference, held in Los Angeles in March 2019
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Year Zero: 1906. In: Year Zero: 1906. Available at: https://www.soane.org/whats-on/talks/year-zero-1906-timothy-brittain-catlin.
    A talk by Timothy Brittain-Catlin at Sir John Soane's Museum, 13 February 2019, to mark the publication by Machine Books in association with the Museum of Year Zero: 1906, one in a series of talks to mark watershed years in architectural history
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2018). Architecture and the Edwardian Era. In: Gresham College Free Public Lectures. Available at: https://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/architecture-and-the-edwardian-era.
    This lecture, given at Gresham College on 13 March 2018, presents a new theory of Edwardian domestic architecture based on the contemporary interest in remodelling old houses, and of designing new houses to look as if they have been remodelled. The lecture proposes adding three major houses to the canon of Edwardian domestic architecture: Kingsgate Castle, near Broadstairs; Daws Hill, High Wycombe; and Vann, Hambledon, Surrey. Video and audio recordings can be found on the website given here.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2018). Pugin’s House – a home for all Europe. In: European Year of Cultural Heritage, Lectures on Architecture. Available at: http://european-heritage.co.uk/tag/talks/.
    European Year of Cultural Heritage, Lectures on Architecture: 5

    A lecture given at the European Commission Represetnation in the UK at Europe House, Smith Square on 15 February 2018 about the international character of British nineteenth-century domestic architecture from the Pugins to Voysey and Muthesius
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). The C20 house - Trends for the Future (23 November 2017). In: C20 Society 100 Houses 100 Years Lecture Series 2017. Available at: https://c20society.org.uk/.
    This lecture presents some recent private houses as examples of different historical styles.

    From a series of lectures held to celebrate the publication by Batsford of the Twentieth Century Society’s 100 Houses 100 Years
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). Voysey today: everywhere you look. In: Voysey Society Social Event and Lecture, 3rd November 2017. Available at: https://www.voyseysociety.org/events/Nov17.html.
    This paper presents the work of Voysey as an example of the periodic reappearance of Jacobean motifs in English architecture. It was presented to the Voysey Society at their meeting in London of Friday 3rd November 2017

Internet publication

  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Art Deco Britain: Buildings of the Interwar Years [Website]. Available at: http://www.cercles.com/review/r86/Harwood.html.
    A review of Art Deco Britain: Buildings of the Interwar Years, by Elain Harwood
  • Learning from Romford (2019). [internet magazine]. Available at: https://medium.com/table-top/learning-from-romford-346a39bd5e2a.
    About the estate at Gidea Park, Romsford, Essex, 1911, and its lessons for contemporary residential estate planning
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). Architecture Is Moving Into a Realm Where History Plays As Much a Part As Medium [Internet publication]. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/883570/space-popular-architecture-is-moving-into-a-realm-where-history-plays-as-much-a-part-as-medium.
    On the recent work of Space Popular (the architects Fredrik Hellberg and Laura Lesmes) and the relationship of virtual reality to history and experience


  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2020). English House Style: from the archives of Country Life. The World of Interiors [Online]:73-73. Available at: https://www.worldofinteriors.co.uk/.
    A review of English House Style: from the archives of Country Life, by John Goodall
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Ernest Gimson: arts and crafts designer and architect. The World of Interiors [Online] 2020:22. Available at: https://www.worldofinteriors.co.uk/.
    A review of Ernest Gimson: arts and crafts designer and architect, by Annette Carruthers, Mary Greensted and Barley Roscoe
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Book review: The Museum and the Factory: The V&A, Elkington, and the Electrical Revolution. The World of interiors [Online] 2019:148. Available at: http://www.worldofinteriors.co.uk/.
    A review of The Museum and the Factory: The V&A, Elkington, and the Electrical Revolution, by Alistair Grant and Angus Patterson
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Book review: Art Deco Chicago: Designing Modern America, and Art Deco City: The World’s Most Beautiful Buildings. The World of Interiors [Online] 2019:33. Available at: http://www.worldofinteriors.co.uk/.
    A review of Art Deco Chicago: Designing Modern America, edited by Robert Bruegmann, and Art Deco City: The World's Most Beautiful Buildings, by Arnold Schwartzman
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Timothy Brittain-Catlin on John Ruskin and the Fabric of Architecture. Architectural Research Quarterly [Online] 23:87-89. Available at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/arq-architectural-research-quarterly.
    A review of John Ruskin and the Fabric of Architecture, by Anuradha Chatterjee.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Book review: Drawing Architecture. The World of Interiors [Online] 2019:76. Available at: http://www.worldofinteriors.co.uk/.
    A review of Drawing Architecture, by Helen Thomas
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Book Review. The Journal of Architecture [Online] 24:114-118. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13602365.2019.1569386.
    A review of Baroque between the wars: alternative style in the
    arts, 1918–1939 (Oxford: OUP, 2018) by Jane Stevenson
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2018). The Architectural Works of A. W. N. Pugin (book review) Kerr-Peterson, M. ed. Innes Review [Online] 69:214-214. Available at: https://www.euppublishing.com/toc/inr/69/2.
    A review of The Architectural Works of A. W. N. Pugin, by G. J. Hyland, Innes Review 69(2), pp. 214–216
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2018). ’Chapels of England’ [book review]. Victorian [Online]:24. Available at: https://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/publications/category/the-victorian.
    A review of 'Chapels of England: buildings of protestant nonconformity', by Christopher Wakeling
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2018). Sir Edwin Lutyens: the arts and crafts houses [book review]. The World of Interiors [Online] 2018:33. Available at: http://www.worldofinteriors.co.uk/.
    a review of Sir Edwin Lutyens: the arts and crafts houses, by David Cole
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2018). Abbey Natural. Architecture today [Online] 2018:40-46. Available at: http://www.architecturetoday.co.uk/abbey-natural/.
    A review of the Weston Tower (by Ptolemy Dean) and the Triforium Galleries (by MUMA) at Westminster Abbey
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2018). Cottages Ornes: the charms of the simple life [book review]. The World of Interiors 2018:82.
    A review of Cottages Ornes: the charms of the simple life, by Roger White
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2018). Cream of Devon: How Buckfast Abbey was reborn. The Tablet [Online] 272:22. Available at: http://www.thetablet.co.uk/books/10/12260/cream-of-devon-how-buckfast-abbey-was-reborn.
    A review of Buckfast Abbey: history, art and architecture, edited by Peter Beacham
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). Scarpa Tribute. Architectural Review [Online] 2017:144-146. Available at: https://www.architectural-review.com/.
    A review of 'Carlo Scarpa and Castelvecchio Revisited', by Richard Murphy
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). Book review: ’Ornament is Crime: modernist architecture’. The World of Interiors [Online] 2017:105. Available at: http://www.worldofinteriors.co.uk/.
    a review of 'Ornament is Crime: modernist architecture', by Matt Gibberd and Albert Hill
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). Book review: One Poultry Speaks Croft, C. ed. C20 [Online] 2017:65. Available at: https://c20society.org.uk/publications/.
    a review of One Poultry Speaks, by Marco Iuliano
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). ’Building Community: new apartment architecture’ [book review]. World of Interiors 2017:45.
    A review of 'Building Community: new apartment architecture', by Michael Webb


  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2020). Ugliness and Judgment: On Architecture in the Public Eye (review). Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians [Online]:230-232. Available at: https://online.ucpress.edu/jsah.
    A review of Ugliness and Judgment: On Architecture in the Public Eye, by Timothy Hyde (Princeton University Press, 2019)
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